Africa Media Review for February 15, 2024

Five Burning Issues for the African Union Meetings
The 37th African Union (AU) summit began in Addis Ababa on 14 February with dozens of government delegations jetting in. Heads of state from across the continent will meet from 17-18 February…Member states will discuss ongoing conflicts in Sudan and Libya. But presidents, foreign ministers and government representatives will also tackle a range of political and institutional crises that are rocking the continent. On the agenda: turmoil sparked by Senegal’s postponed presidential poll, turbulence as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) prepares for Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger’s exit, and the escalating tensions between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Africa Report

Civil Society Groups Take Senegalese Govt to Court over Internet Shutdowns
Civil society groups in Senegal have mounted a lawsuit against the government’s internet shutdowns in the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Court). The case brought before the ECOWAS Court is about the government’s shutdown of the internet in June, July and August last year during widespread protests against the conviction of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Media Defence and the Rule of Law Impact Lab at Stanford Law School have filed the case on behalf of the Senegal-based pan-African civil society organisation, AfricTivistes…”During political unrest, access to information is crucial, and internet shutdowns only worsen the situation, hindering the flow of vital news and endangering the safety of citizens,” [Cheikh Fall, president of AfricTivistes, said in a statement]…There’s hope that the courts will rule in favour of the applicants because in the past they had ruled against internet shutdowns in Togo and Guinea. News24

Erdogan Says Turkey Ready to Cooperate with Egypt on Gaza
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey was ready for cooperation with Egypt to rebuild Gaza as he made his first visit to the country since 2012. Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held a joint news conference on Wednesday in Cairo after bilateral talks, taking a big step toward rebuilding relations between the regional powers…Relations between Ankara and Cairo broke down in 2013 after Egypt’s then-army chief Sisi led the ouster of the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi, an ally of Turkey who had become Egypt’s first democratically elected president the year before. The countries mutually appointed ambassadors last year. This month Turkey said it would provide Egypt with armed drones. Reuters

WHO: Coming Lean Season in Sudan Could Trigger Catastrophic Hunger
The World Health Organization says the coming lean season in Sudan could trigger catastrophic levels of hunger and widespread illness and death from infectious disease among a malnourished, famished population…Speaking in Cairo Tuesday, [Peter Graaff, acting WHO representative to Sudan] told journalists in Geneva about 25 million people, more than half of Sudan’s population, need humanitarian assistance. Among them, he said 18 million are facing acute hunger, including five million at emergency levels of hunger who are just one step away from starvation…The World Health Organization warns time is of the essence because the lean season is just six short weeks away. That is the period of the year when food stocks are at their lowest ahead of the next harvest. VOA

Erratic Weather Fueled by Climate Change Will Worsen Locust Outbreaks, Study Finds
The desert locust — a short-horned species found in some dry areas of northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia — is a migratory insect that travels in swarms of millions over long distances and damages crops, causing famine and food insecurity…[A new] study, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, said these outbreaks will be “increasingly hard to prevent and control” in a warming climate…The researchers also found a strong link between the magnitude of desert locust outbreaks and weather and land conditions like air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, and wind. Desert locusts are more likely to infest arid areas that receive sudden extreme rainfall, and the number of the insects in an outbreak is strongly impacted by weather conditions. AP

South African Military: 2 Soldiers Killed, 3 Wounded on Congo Mission
The South African military said on Thursday two of its soldiers were killed and three wounded by a mortar bomb that landed inside a military base in Democratic Republic of Congo, where its troops are helping to fight armed groups. South Africa said earlier this week that it would send 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to a force deployed by southern African regional bloc SADC to help Congo address deteriorating security in its restive eastern region. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement posted on X that the mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African contingent’s military bases on Wednesday. Reuters

South Africa: Zuma’s MK Party Snatches Votes from ANC, IFP in Fierce Zululand Contest as It Gives Big Parties Another Huge Fright
The uMkhonto Wesizwe party continued from where it left off in its recent debut by-election by taking votes off the IFP, and now the ANC, to give both established parties a fright in a marginal IFP seat in uPhongolo, KwaZulu-Natal. The IFP took a seat off the ANC in Newcastle, while the Patriotic Alliance trounced the DA in George in the Western Cape. In other by-elections, the DA held off GOOD in a spirited challenge in Theewaterskloof (Elgin), where Marius Fransman’s PMC party had a poor debut. The ANC had two good results in the north, while the DA was dominant in an Ekurhuleni seat. Daily Maverick

Ethiopia: Referendum in Western Tigray Not Feasible amidst Demographic Changes, Persistent Displacement: Tigray Interim Admin
During a media briefing held [Monday], President Getachew Reda of the Tigray Interim Administration conveyed that the current alteration in the demographic makeup of western Tigray, combined with the persistent displacement of its inhabitants, precludes the feasibility of conducting a referendum…Despite the Pretoria peace agreement, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and several media reports…documented continued ethnic cleansing, human rights abuses and forcible expelling of Tigrayans from Western Tigray…[Getachew] emphasized the requirement specified in the agreement, which mandates the safe return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their respective original locations and ensuring their peace and security. Addis Standard

Haiti Says It Is Working on an Agreement with Kenya to Secure a Long-Awaited Police Deployment
Haiti’s government announced Wednesday that it is working on an official agreement with Kenyan officials to secure the long-awaited deployment of a police force from the east African country. High-ranking officials from both countries met in the U.S. for three days this week to draft a memorandum of understanding and set a deadline for the arrival of Kenyan police forces. The closed-door meetings included top U.S. officials and were held weeks after a court in Kenya blocked the U.N-backed deployment of police to help Haiti fight a surge in gang violence, saying it is unconstitutional…Haiti’s government said in a statement that there were “intense discussions” to bring a memorandum of understanding into compliance with legislation of both countries…It said the talks also focused on the mission’s operations, logistics and compliance, as well as surveillance, required equipment and human rights issues. AP

Botswana Opposition Slams Electoral Body for Benchmarking in Zimbabwe
Botswana’s coalition of opposition parties has slammed the country’s electoral body for traveling to Zimbabwe to benchmark its election procedures — the process by which the performance of a system is assessed for success and emulation. Botswana will hold its general election later this year, and officials with the country’s Independent Electoral Commission have been criticized for choosing the example of Zimbabwe, a country that held disputed polls in August 2023…The IEC, in a statement released Wednesday, said the visit to Zimbabwe was specifically to look at ZEC’s accreditation machine for election observers. VOA

60 Nigerian Lawmakers Want Presidential System Abolished, Transition to Parliamentary System
A group of 60 lawmakers has initiated a move to end the current presidential system and revert to the parliamentary system previously used in Nigeria’s First Republic. The group, known as the Parliamentary Group, introduced a constitution alteration bill on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting in motion what could be a transition to a parliamentary system by 2031… “The bills presented today seek a return to the system of government adopted by our founders, which made governance accountable, responsible, and responsive, and ultimately less expensive,” [Abdulsamad Dasuki, the group’s spokesperson] said. Nigeria operated under the parliamentary system pre-independence and in the First Republic. However, the coup of 15 January 1966 truncated that republic. Premium Times

Graphic Novel on Wagner Group Lifts the Lid on African Atrocities
Wagner, l’histoire secrète des mercenaires de Poutine (“Wagner: The Secret History of Putin’s Mercenaries”), by Jeune Afrique journalists Mathieu Olivier and Benjamin Roger, was published by French publishing house Les Arènes on 8 February…The graphic novel depicts the rise of the Russian mercenaries in four movements: The Central African Laboratory, The Malian Breakthrough, The Crazy War and The New Era…This graphic work reveals the importance of propaganda for the paramilitary group; the recourse to negotiation in Sudan; the plundering, via commercial companies, from port management to the forestry sector, and the smug and insufficient policies of Western politicians. The Africa Report

‘Dark Valentine’ Day in Kenya, as Nationwide Vigils Mark Grim Toll of Murdered Women and Girls
16 Kenyan women…have died allegedly at the hands of their partners since the start of 2024…The January killings, and dozens of others, prompted thousands to take to the streets last month, calling for an end to the scourge and for Kenya’s notoriously backlogged justice system to deal seriously with domestic violence…At least 500 femicide cases have been recorded in Kenya since 2016. A majority of the killings follow systematic domestic violence, according to the platform Africa data hub, which says femicide cases are probably heavily under-reported due to miscategorisation and inadequate coverage…Last month’s protests have prompted some action: the police have created a hotline where femicide cases can be reported, and a special team to expedite the investigation of femicides. The Guardian

Ivory Coast President Rewards Football Team for Their AFCON Win
Celebrations for Ivory Coast’s football team continued on Tuesday as the country marked its victory in the Africa Cup of Nations. Players, coaches, and officials were received by head of state, Alassane Ouattara, for a reception at the Presidential Palace. The victorious Elephants, African champions in 2023, received medals from Ouattara and each members of the squad received a monetary gift. In the country’s National Order of Merit, team officials were awarded the rank of Commander, while the coaches and players were named Chevalier and officers. Africanews